Engish football reunited with Jose Mourinho

June 4, 2013

This was the week that Jose Mourinho was reappointed manager of Chelsea football club. We look back at the period when he was abandoned for the first time

The earlier post [Dec 2007] built on a TV documentary which was striking in its demonstration of a charismatic leadership style.

Read the rest of this entry »


Puma Adidas rematch as Bayern beat Dortmund in the Champions Cup

May 27, 2013

Bayern DortmundThrough a series of coincidences, the 2013 European Champions cup final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund was also a reminder of the historic rivalry between the Puma and Adidas firms

The Champions League football final [May 25th 2013] took place in Wembley stadium before a capacity crowd. The fancied Bayern Munich eventually overcame plucky resistance from opponents who also had chances to win.

Puma Adidas

By coincidence, Bayern was sponsored by Adidas and Dortmund by Puma, two brands which have a remarkable historic rivalry. You can read about it in Leaders We Deserve [2009] in a post which describes another football match which attempted to head a seventy year old rivalry:

The charity Peace One Day plays a part in peace initiatives around the world. On September 21st, among those symbolic actions were those taken by Puma and Adidas, two firms whose existence reflects a long-lasting family feud within a small Bavarian township. They played a football game football together and watched the movie “The Day after Peace” by Jeremy Gilley, director and founder of PEACE ONE DAY.

The Adidas Puma story seems right for a Hollywood movie. In the 1920s, two brothers grew up and worked in the laundry shop owned by their mother in the 1920s. They started in business together with a shared idea which created the marketing of clothing exclusively for sporting activities. In the 1930s they equipped Jesse Owens for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin [a story in itself]. But the brothers rarely agreed over anything, and sibling rivalry must have contributed to the split into two firms, still operating in close proximity in a little township in Bavaria.

Whatever, the story tells of a feud during the 1939-45 war which was to split family and employees in the little village of Herzogenaurach for decades afterwards. Today, the old rivalries are mostly muted and symbolic. The Day of Peace celebrations confirmed existing practical realities of life in the township.

Branding wars

As Reuters reported [May 2013]

Adidas is the long-standing kit supplier to Bayern and owns a stake of around nine per cent in the Bavarian club, while Puma became the sportswear partner of Dortmund a year ago.
However, while Adidas and U.S. rival Nike dominate a football market estimated to be worth up to 4.5 billion euros, Puma is playing catch-up after years of focusing more on fashion than performance sportswear.

Its decision to partner with Dortmund yielded an instant return when the club made it to the Champions League final – the biggest prize in European club football and [attracted] a global television audience of over 150 million …[According to reports in the English media ]Puma are set to agree a deal worth more than 30 million pounds a year to provide the kit for English Premier League club Arsenal, replacing Nike.


End of an era as Sir Alex Ferguson retires as Manager of Manchester United

May 8, 2013

Sir Alex FergusonSir Alex Ferguson retires in a relatively smooth fashion. Nevertheless, his departure means an inevitable period of transition for the global club he helped to build. Front-runners are emerging as a successor

The announcement today [May 8th 2013] should not have been surprising. Sir Alex announced his retirement once before, some years ago, and the shock waves around the news prompted a recantation.

Age shall not weary them

I do not need to check his age. He was born of December 31st 1941, making him a few days younger than myself. Our careers took us on very different paths, although over the last two decades I have found myself regularly writing and talking about his leadership style and achievements.

The most bizarre of those efforts was at an event in Miami where I had been asked to compare his achievements with those of Pat Riley, the iconic coach of the Miami Heat basketball team.

What they do teach at Harvard Business School

Much later, Harvard business School invited Sir Alex to talk about his leadership style. My envy was only slightly lessened by the comforting thought that at Manchester, business students had been studying a case through the textbook Dilemmas of Leadership [Edition 1 only : maybe a revised case is possible for Edition 3, if I don’t retire before it comes out].

The Ferguson touch

The story of his exceptional career and robust style is becoming well-known. [Use the right-hand vertical side bar to find the tags to the various LWD posts written since 2006].

A period of mourning

On hearing the news, someone with inside knowledge of the club told me “It’s a period of mourning. I’ve followed them since I was a child. I love the club. For young people, he’s the only manager they remember.” She listed a range of well-known names as possible future managers, including an insider.

The 3Ms

Speculation on succession throws up three early front-runners, David Moyes of Everton, Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid, and Roberto Martinez of Wigan Athletic. One a Scot, one Portuguese, and one Spanish. I would not want to place a bet although I expect there to be a name already close to being announced.

Footnote

Another list of front runners from The Independent

Later, the three names were linked as follows. Moyes replaced Ferguson; Mourinho went to Chelsea, and Martinez replaced Moyes at Everton.


Global reach: Does Manchester United Football Club have five hundred million ‘followers’?

February 18, 2013

MUFC red devilTudor Rickards

A market research firm claims that Manchester United Football Club is followed by approximately one of every ten people in the world. This figure has prompted much suspicion.

The claim was made by Kantar Sport, and is featured within promotional material by the football club which also has claims to have the greatest following world-wide.

The story was reported by the BBC [February 18th 2012]

Even the most ardent opponent of Manchester United would acknowledge that the club has fans right around the world. But the statement that the club has a global following of 659 million adults – out of a total five billion adults in the world – is still quite staggering.

The work was carried out earlier, and had already appeared on MUFC’s official website which stated:

The largest global football follower survey ever conducted has today [29th May 2012] named Manchester United the world’s most popular club, with 659 million followers worldwide.

The survey was carried out by leading market research agency, Kantar, and gathered 54,000 respondents from 39 countries. The club that Forbes recently named the most valuable in world sport was identified as the favourite team of 659 million followers around the world. Kantar found that football remains the world’s most popular sport, with 1.6 billion followers globally, reinforcing the results of a recent FIFA survey which produced a similar figure.
Richard Arnold, the club’s Commercial Director, commented on the long-term strategy that has made Manchester United the number one club in the world’s number one sport.

The BBC was more skeptical:

Even the most ardent opponent of Manchester United would acknowledge that the club has fans right around the world. But the statement that the club has a global following of 659 million adults – out of a total five billion adults in the world – is still quite staggering.

When an advertising agency makes statistical claims, it is a good idea to carry out a few simple tests to understand the degree of marketing speak behind the statement.

Schrank’s analysis

The advertising guru Jeffrey Shrank has compiled a list of the methods behind advertising claims in The Language of Advertising Speak. The Schrank article ‘does what it says on the can’ to borrow another advertising claim. Schrank lists ten ways in which advertising claims seek to imply more than the words claim.

The Manchester United Claim

In the case of Manchester United, this will be the owners, The Glazer family. It is worth asking: What part might the ‘one person in ten’ claim play in the strategic thinking of the owners of the club?

Note to students of leadership:

Can you apply the processes of map reading, testing and making to understanding more about the claim? What do you make of the statistical methods applied by Kantor? [intelligent assessment if you are not experienced with stats] How would you advise a competitive club on the significance of the claim for their own strategic considerations?


Derby drama at Manchester: In search of leadership lessons

December 9, 2012

Football violenceBy LWD armchair reporter Tudor Rickards

An unedited report of the game between Manchester City against Manchester United at the Etiad Stadium, December 9th 2012

Warning to readers: This report will not make much sense to readers who are not football followers. I have tried to indicate CY [City] or MU [Manchester United] to provide a little more information

I noted before the game that Kompany [CY Captain] is going around encouraging players one by one. Good. The game starts with a lot of ugly hacking, more by Utd than City. Rooney MU gets yellow and is in danger of red card. City press hard. Evans MU fouled and injured, but Kompany CY is first to limp off. Rooney scores with weak shot. 1-0 Was Hart CY goalkeeper out of position? Game more even now. Half chances. Then another breakaway, Rooney scores more convincingly this time. 2-0 United

Is it a plan by MU to defend deep and then break? Evans MU limps off. Free kick saved by Goalkeeper de Gea MU . Utd attack. Then another city corner and pressure. Game a bit shapeless. Foul count continues. Now a bit more fouling. Pinball stuff. No obvious calming influence . Scrappy to HT . [This on-line stuff is harder to do than I imagined. Maybe I could try Chess?]

Is leadership mainly from coaches Ferguson MU and Mancini MC? On the field , I realize now, there are few chances for verbal signals by any captain. This game is a wild tactical one, although perhaps the teams have a prearranged plan which may or not be stuck too.

Game increases in intensity. More defensive injuries. Evans MU eventually limps off as Ferdinand MU is also crocked , but stays on.

Cleverley blasts well over the bar for fourth time or so (but playing well otherwise in centre). Sense that neither team will string passes together without making a mistake. 55 min of stop-go rather than non-stop stuff

City scores by Yaya Toure. 1-2 MU. Pinball in the end. Stadium comes alive. Game comes alive. Close calls for a penalty for each side. Much more interesting now. More close calls. Rooney MU gets yellow card. Yaya Toure CY also, and injures himself in process [75 min. } Continues to be end to end. super sub Dzeko CY comes on. And Phil Jones for MU. City score. 2-2.

Even more hectic. Welbeck MU on for Cleverley. More hectic stuff Another foul this time by CY. Van Persie MU scores from free kick. 2 mins to go. 3-2 United.

Extra time [4 min]. Injury to Rio Ferdinand MU by object thrown by a fan. Much blood from above his eye. Game ends. MU players too weary to rejoice [or showing a bit of wisdom?]

Leadership conclusion. I didn’t see much opportunity for leadership from on-field captains. Is the leadership role relatively weak or too subtle for me to see as an armchair follower of the game?

Post-mortem

For an excellent analyis of ‘the volcanic rivalry’ between CY and MU see the Telegraph’s account. Now that’s what I call a balanced view.


City fan has recurring nightmare that his team lost the Premiership

May 16, 2012

City fan Eric still has a nightmare that his team lost the race to the Premiership title

Eric was interviewed in Leaders We Deserve some years ago. It was at a time when supporting City was a burden to be carried. Eric was recovering from an era of successive relegations from the Premiership and then the championship. The joy of recovery was tinged with bad memories.

Then it all changed

In the early hours of Monday morning, [14th May 2012] having joined in the first night of celebrations over City’s greatest triumph, he went to bed a contented man.

His worse nightmare

But even at the moment of City’s greatest success, his worse nightmare began. Looking gaunt, he describes his nightly torments:

“I’m back watching the QPR game. We are well in control but not winning. Then Barton gets sent off. They are down to ten men. Even we can’t lose it now. The dream’s so life-like. I’m Pozning with glee.[The Poznan: Curious City celebration, involving synchronized jumping up and down].

Then they break away and score. We are going to lose. In my dream the whole stadium is full of jeering Reds. [gleeful United fans].

Then they score again. We go behind. The Reds are cheering.

We pour back at them. Wave after wave it was. But whatever we do, the goalie pulls off miracle save after save. Now it’s extra time. Only one minute! [here as elsewhere, Eric’s dream is a distortion of reality]. The Etiad [stadium] changes colour from blue to red. The whole sky goes red. The cheering and jeering is dreadful.

I wake up covered in sweat. I can’t believe it’s a dream.

Yesterday I went over to the celebrations at Albert Square. Fantastic. But after when I got home and got to bed, it was that same nightmare. Nothing changed. United win out again.”

True fans have to suffer

A truly sad tale. We send Eric our congratulations and condolences. True fans have to suffer. But not like this.


Hossam Hassan, Egypt’s football legend who aims to became a successful coach

August 25, 2010

The greatest footballers often aspire to become great coaches. Maradonna is but the latest to try his hand in a leadership role. One who is setting out on that path is Hossam Hassan. The Egyptian legend became the most-capped and highest-scoring player in African football history (83 international goals and 170 appearances over 21 years with the Pharaohs). Hassan joined Cairo’s prestigious Al Ahly in 1985 and forced his way into the national team not so much for technique as for what FIFA described as “the steely resolve that would become his trademark which ensured that he was soon enough established as his country’s first-choice forward.”

Successes and setbacks

In 1988, Mahmoud El Gohary took over the Pharaohs reins for the first time and steered the team to their second FIFA World Cup appearance two years later. Hassan found in El Gohary a mentor.
After a spell in European football Hassan returned to a struggling Al Ahly, and helped them regain their former status. But he suffered a setback when he was released (together with his twin brother) under a disciplinary storm. He then moved to Al Ahly’s great rivals Zamalek and duly led them to several titles. He also continued his international playing career (there are some similarities with David Beckham) and in 2006 at the age of 40,  he was part of the Egypt team that regained the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006.

International ambitions

He remains a controversial figure, although he retains ambitions of international coaching leadership: “I hope one day to take charge of the Egyptian national team…and I believe that I will achieve that very soon.”

Acknowlegements

Image from the Zamalek webpage. Also to the student in Dubai who introduced me to the name of his sporting hero. If he reads my post and gets in touch I will be pleased to add his name to the acknowledgements here.